By Emil Souleimanov (07/02/2014 issue of the Turkey Analyst)
News has recently resurfaced in media outlets across the world referring to Omar al-Shishani, an ethnic Chechen leader of the north-Syrian sector of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), as one of the presently most influential and reputed jihadist leaders. Indeed, since around 2012, when fighters of North Caucasian origin appeared at the forefront of international jihadists engaged in the Syrian civil war, they have become a significant component of the anti-Assad force. They have grouped into various, increasingly divergent, mujahideen armies and their prospective return to the North Caucasus holds significant security implications.
By Emil Souleimanov (the 05/02/2014 issue of the CACI Analyst)
Recently, frequent media reports of Azerbaijani citizens involved in the Syrian civil war have sparked a renewed interest in the possible impact of Arab revolutions on this post-Soviet country. Even though Azerbaijani authorities have sought to remain silent on the matter, news from both the South Caucasus and the Middle East suggest that Azerbaijani volunteers have increasingly been participating in the civil war hundreds of miles away from their homeland. Upon their return in Azerbaijan, they might pose a serious threat to the internal stability of the nation of nine million, located at the crossroads of Turkey, Iran, and Russia.
Jacob Zenn (the 02/10/2013 issue of the CACI Analyst)
As the civil war in Syria enters its third year, jihadists from around the world continue to travel there to fight the government of Bashar al-Assad. In 2013, Central Asian jihadists have become more prominent among foreign fighters. There is also increasing evidence that fighters from Central Asia and the Caucasus who fought in Syria are returning to their home countries to carry out attacks. Central Asian countries now not only risk a revival of Islamist militancy in Central Asia after the war in Afghanistan but also as a consequence of the civil war in Syria.
by Emil Souleimanov (the 08/21/13 issue of the CACI Analyst)
In mid-July, the Chechen Republic‘s President Ramzan Kadyrov admitted that Chechens have taken part in the Syria civil war on the side of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), allegations that he categorically denied one year ago. Simultaneously, the formal leader of the Caucasus Emirate Doku Umarov reversed his stance on the participation of Chechens in Syria. Umarov has earlier appealed to Chechen and North Caucasian youth to refrain from joining the Syria jihad and instead fight the “infidels” in their native land, but has now expressed his support for North Caucasian jihadists going to Syria, with the ultimate goal for them to return and join the insurgency upon their return from the Middle East.
The Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst is a biweekly publication of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program, a Joint Transatlantic Research and Policy Center affiliated with the American Foreign Policy Council, Washington DC., and the Institute for Security and Development Policy, Stockholm. For 15 years, the Analyst has brought cutting edge analysis of the region geared toward a practitioner audience.